Locals say drain plan doesn’t hold water

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
The Vasse Diversion Drain before reopening work commenced
Camera IconThe Vasse Diversion Drain before reopening work commenced Credit: Supplied

Busselton has a new recreational beach fishing location thanks to the clearing of the Vasse Diversion Drain, but locals say the drain clearing is a waste of money.

West Busselton residents have criticised the reopening of the drain because of the “inefficient” handling of the project.

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and the Water Corporation cleared the natural sand bar last week, but locals say the beach will return by March.

Water Corporation South West regional manager John Janssen said the drain was opened to improve water quality and assist with flood relief after a successful trial opening in February last year.

“The natural sand bar which forms in summer at the beach entrance to the drain was manually reopened ahead of schedule due to favourable weather patterns,” he said.

“Fish have begun populating the lower sections and improving the habitat for other native animals such as small mammals and birds.”

Despite efforts to flush the drain with an increase of sea water, West Busselton resident Michael Stewart said the sand would return and the drain opening works were an “unsustainable waste of taxpayers’ money.”

“I don’t know how you could consider last year’s project a success when it was closed within a month,” he said.

“Basically it’s smoke and mirrors.

The ideas are good but the way they’re doing it is inefficient.

“They should have learnt from last year’s trial.”

Opening the sandbar annually was recommended in the Geographe Catchment Drainage Management Plan as part of Revitalising Geographe Waterways.

A spokesperson for DWER said community feedback last year was supportive of works to improve water conditions and the drain was not intended to be a permanent channel.

“The purpose of opening the sandbar is to allow a small amount of water to flush into the lower reaches of the drain when water levels in the drain are at the lowest,” the spokesperson said.

She said if the drain remained unopened, the water became much warmer, affecting wildlife.

“Nutrient run-off becomes more concentrated and can produce an unpleasant odour in warm weather.”

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